WhatsApp Messenger, or simply WhatsApp, is an American freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook, Inc. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media.
Initial release date: 3 May 2009
Developer(s): WhatsApp Inc. (Facebook, Inc.)
Written in: Erlang
Size: 132.4 MB (iOS); 28.92 MB (Android)
Original authors: Brian Acton, Jan Koum
A new series if text bombs or ‘crash codes’ have been discovered that cause WhatsApp to continually crash on both iPhone and Android handsets. Specially coded messages containing a seemingly random string of strange characters cause rendering problems for WhatsApp, resulting in a loop of crashes.
The dangerous codes are being shared in online forums, and as reliable insider site WABetaInfo explains, WhatsApp users are being advised not to send them on to friends, family or other contacts even as a joke.
- A contact might send a message that contains many weird characters. If you read them entirely, they have no sense, says WABetaInfo
- Infinite crash means that, when you open WhatsApp, it is frozen and it crashes
WhatsApp crashing because of malicious text messages is not new. There have been instances in the past where WhatsApp users have faced issues with their devices crashing because of receiving messages that have unusually long codes written using special characters. According to a report by WABetaInfo, several users from Brazil have reported this issue.
According to a report by WABetaInfo, a message with long character strings are causing the app to crash. Similarly, contact information like vcards has been stuffed full of characters which may cause the app to crash. If you are using a more mid-range or an affordable phone with lesser powered chipsets – then you are in for multiple restarts.
The report by WABetaInfo states, “A contact might send a message that contains many weird characters. If you read them entirely, they have no sense, but WhatsApp might interpret the message in the wrong way. Sometimes WhatsApp is also unable to render the message totally because its structure is so weird: the combination of these characters creates a situation where WhatsApp isn’t able to process the message, determining an infinite crash.”
The report further stated, “Infinite crash means that, when you open WhatsApp, it is frozen and it crashes. If you try to open the app again, it still crashes. There isn’t an effective and general solution to fix this issue, because WhatsApp should carefully study the problem and implement a final fix.”
Here’s a temporary solution
Here is what you should do in case you receive a text like this, “If you receive a scary message, you should try to block the contact from WhatsApp Web. Then set your group privacy settings to “My Contacts” or “My Contacts except..” (because other unknown contacts might add you in groups, sending a scary message) and remove the message containing the crash code, if it’s possible, from WhatsApp Web.”
There are, thankfully, some steps you can take to help protect yourself against these crash codes. While it’s not a guaranteed form of security, it’s a good idea to limit who can add you to a group as this will help to reduce the risk of being exposed to strangers who might share a dangerous message or vCard with you.
Open up your WhatsApp settings, head to the ‘Privacy’ section and change the ‘Groups’ setting so that only your contacts can add you to a group.
Walsh advised anyone unfortunate enough to have receiver a crash code message to log into their account in the web-based version of WhatsApp, block the person who sent the message, and then delete it. This might prove tricky unless you are already logged into WhatsApp Web, as you need to scan a QR code using the WhatsApp mobile app.
We contacted WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook for a comment, and a spokesperson told us: “WhatsApp has released and already begun rolling out a patch that addresses this in its latest iOS software update. As with any tech product, we strongly encourage users to keep their WhatsApp app and mobile operating system up to date and download updates whenever they’re available”.
Groups to keep in touch
Keep in touch with the groups of people that matter the most, like your family or coworkers. With group chats, you can share messages, photos, and videos with up to 256 people at once. You can also name your group, mute or customize notifications, and more.
With voice calls, you can talk to your friends and family for free*, even if they’re in another country. And with free* video calls, you can have face-to-face conversations for when voice or text just isn’t enough. WhatsApp voice and video calls use your phone’s Internet connection, instead of your cell plan’s voice minutes, so you don’t have to worry about expensive calling charges.
Security by Default
Some of your most personal moments are shared on WhatsApp, which is why we built end-to-end encryption into the latest versions of our app. When end-to-end encrypted, your messages and calls are secured so only you and the person you’re communicating with can read or listen to them, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.